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The latest report from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) has noted a continued slide in the performance of the overall new vehicle market in September 2019.

On the flipside, the volume passenger car segment reflected an unexpected but welcome uptick, largely supported by strong sales to the car rental industry during the month.
 
Naamsa confirmed that aggregate domestic sales at 49 191 units reflected a decline of 439 units or 0,9 percent from the 49 630 vehicles sold in September last year. Monthly export sales registered a modest decline compared to the high base level of the corresponding month last year, but the upward momentum remains strong.

Overall, out of the total reported industry sales of  49 191  vehicles, an estimated 37 707 units or 76,7 percent represented dealer sales, an estimated 12,6 18,9 percent represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3,1 percent to industry corporate fleets, and 1,3 percent to government.

The September 2019 new passenger car sales showed a welcome increase, albeit modest, by 358 cars or 1,1 percent to 33 139 units compared to the  32 781 new carrs sold in September last year. The car rental industry continued to support domestic volumes, accounting for a substantial 27,3 percent, or more than one out of every four new cars sold in September 2019.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses at 13 473 units during September 2019 had recorded a decline of 894 units or 6,2 percent from the 14 367 units sold during the corresponding month last year.

Sales in the medium and heavy truck segments reflected a mixed performance and at 790 units and 1 789 units, respectively, showed an increase of 97 vehicles, or an improvement of 14,0 percent, in the case of medium commercial vehicles. Sales of heavy trucks and buses registered 1 789 units, the exact same number of vehicles were sold during the corresponding month last year

September 2019 exports numbered 35 657 vehicles, reflecting a decline of 1 097 units, or 3,0 percent, compared to the high base of 36 754 vehicles exported in the same month last year. For the first nine months of the year, vehicle exports, at 297 065 units, are now 47 050 vehicles or 18,8 percent higher than the corresponding period last year and well on track to achieve another record in 2019.

Naamsa said consumers and businesses will continue to delay purchasing decisions on big-ticket items such as new vehicles until there is greater economic stability and they are more optimistic about their economic future. Although the economy grew in the second quarter of the year off the first quarter’s very low base, the underlying pace of activity remains weak and will affect consumer activity .

Vehicle sales speak volumes and as a good leading indicator of the economic climate in the country is mirroring the ongoing low business and consumer confidence levels at present. Although vehicle exports declined during the month compared to the corresponding month of last year, exports remain the main driver of vehicle production activity in the domestic market. The vehicle export momentum remains upward with the industry on track to achieve a new record in 2019.